A witness in the trial of retired Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, has told the court how the former military personnel gifted N35m to the Living Faith Church, popularly known as Winners’ Chapel.
Atewe who served as the Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta before his retirement, is standing trial for allegedly diverting N8.5 billion between September 2014 and May 2015.
Atewe is standing trial alongside a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu, Josephine Otuaga and six companies namely Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
The trial witness, Nkem Ahidjo, told the court yesterday that himself and Atewe met in Abuja some years ago where they worshipped at the Aso villa church. He said he built a strong relationship with Atewe and even attended night vigils in the former military general’s home in Abuja.
Ahidjo said upon resuming as the head of the JTF command in Bayelsa, Atewe called him over to his home and asked him if he had any account where some monies can be lodged. Ahidjo said he told him yes since he has some company accounts. Atewe then told him he would be transferring some monies into the company accounts and that once he receives the transaction, he should get in touch with him for further instructions.
He invited me to Bayelsa and I went. He told me that the Federal Government gave JTF a grant for security and building of barracks and if I have any company into which account money could be paid. And being somebody I knew very well from Guard Commander to Major General, I provided the companies that I listed earlier,” Ahidjo said
He said when he started receiving the alerts, he told Atewe who asked him to hold on to the money unti further instructions. Atewe left for Abuja and invited Ahidjo over. The witness said the military chief then introduced him to one who was receiving the money on Atewe’s behalf. Due to the bulk of the money, Ahidjo said he was instructed to convert the money to dollars for esy transportation.
Each time I received it (money), I would call a BDC operator, named Jimoh. I knew him before this time. He would change the money, I would pay him the naira equivalent and take the dollars. Once I changed it, I would wait for instruction either from Major General Atewe or Mr. Kime. That was what we continued to do until the end of the transaction in 2015,” Ahidjo said.
He told the court that he received a total of N4,915,163,103 within the period, out of which about N4.1bn were converted to dollars and delivered to Engozu, who in turn issued a receipt for each payment based on Atewe’s instruction. He added that of the remaining amount, he was instructed by Atewe to transfer N35m to Winners’ Chapel; N103m to INP Ltd; N170m to First Investment Ltd; N99m to Lord Fem Ltd; N88m to Ocean Gas and N297m to Cisco Nobot.
On what the transfer for Winners Chapel was meant for, Ahidjo told the court that he had no idea.